Bitter taste phenotype and body weight predict children's selection of sweet and savory foods at a palatable test-meal

Kathleen L. Keller, Annemarie Olsen, Terri L. Cravener, Rachel Bloom, Wendy K. Chung, Liyong Deng, Patricia Lanzano, Karol Meyermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Previous studies show that children who are sensitive to the bitter taste of 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) report more frequent intake of sweets and less frequent intake of meats (savory fats) relative to children who are PROP insensitive. Laboratory studies are needed to confirm these findings. In this study, seventy-nine 4- to 6-year-olds from diverse ethnicities attended four laboratory sessions, the last of which included a palatable buffet consisting of savory-fats (e.g. pizza), sweet-fats (e.g. cookies, cakes), and sweets (e.g. juices, candies). PROP phenotype was classified by two methods: 1) a common screening procedure to divide children into tasters and nontasters, and 2) a three-concentration method used to approximate PROP thresholds. Height and weight were measured and saliva was collected for genotyping TAS2R38, a bitter taste receptor related to the PROP phenotype. Data were analyzed by General Linear Model ANOVA with intake from savory fats, sweet-fats, and sweets as dependent variables and PROP status as the independent variable. BMI z-score, sex, age, and ethnicity were included as covariates. Adjusted energy intake from the food group "sweets" at the test-meal was greater for tasters than for nontasters. PROP status did not influence children's adjusted intake of savory-fats, but BMI z-score did. The TAS2R38 genotype did not impact intake at the test-meal. At a palatable buffet, PROP taster children preferentially consumed more sweets than nontaster children, while heavier children consumed more savory fats. These findings may have implications for understanding differences in susceptibility to hyperphagia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-121
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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